Punch Drunk Wonderland

PPR Draft Analysis: The Two WR Strategy

WR Brandon MarshallPPR leagues of 12 teams and fewer offer the owner in the right position the possibility of comfortably doing things differently than what traditional snake drafting dictates and still fielding a competitive team.

Traditional snake drafting orthodoxy tells you that even in a PPR league you need to take two Running Backs in your first three picks for a number of reasons. ADP and VBD dictate you get the largest return on your investment. The QB and WR pools are deep with players of likely similar ability. And only Jimmy Graham offers such exceptional value at TE that he’s worth taking the risk of stepping outside this box.

If you’re drafting in positions 1-9, this orthodoxy more or less holds. In 14 team leagues and above, the Running Back pool becomes so shallow, so quickly, that you almost have to grab two Running Backs while you can.

But if you’re drafting at the bottom end of a 12 team and under serpentine PPR draft, you can grab two elite WRs at the turn and still build a quality, competitive roster, as I believe I’ve managed to do. Below is a look at my draft in Punch Drunk Wonderland’s The PPR league.

Round 1/2

Pick 12 – WR Brandon Marshall
Pick 13 – WR Dez Bryant

Missed Out On: WR Calvin Johnson
Also Available: RB Matt Forte, RB Trent Richardson

WR Dez Bryant2013 figures to see no more than four Wide Receivers with over 100 catches and sitting at the bottom of the first round gives you the opportunity to get two of them. Calvin Johnson fell further in this draft than I normally see him fall; in this case he went at Pick #11.

Trent Richardson fell, somewhat inexplicably as well. He’s a good RB on a below average team, and there are certain PPR advantages to that type of player that are worth discussing.

Round 3/4

Pick 36 – RB Lamar Miller
Pick 37 – RB Daryl Richardson

Missed Out On: RB Reggie Bush, RB Darren Sproles
Also Available: RB David Wilson, RB Shane Vereen

If you’re going to take two WRs with your first two picks it necessitates coming back and grabbing two RBs with your next two picks, and Miller and Richardson, both 225+ carry starters in my mind, fill that bill.

You can reasonably debate those two versus Wilson and Vereen. I like Wilson a great deal, but I don’t trust the offensive line situation in New York. Vereen may have value in a PPR, but he’s not the starter and doesn’t figure to see the majority of carries with the Patriots and while that type of player is fine as a flex option, it’s not the player I’d want to rely on as a starter.

Reggie Bush is a terrific PPR value for a number of reasons, and early this offseason he was falling to this spot. Not only is he capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, but he figures to be on a Detroit Lions team that is playing from behind a lot.

Believe it or not, Mikel LeShoure had PPR value last season because he was a primary check down option in the 4th quarter of games in which the Lions were trying to drive from behind. Bush assumes that role this season.

Round 5/6

Pick 60 – QB Matthew Stafford
Pick 61 – WR Dwayne Bowe

Missed Out On: WR Antonio Brown
Also Available: TE Jared Cook, WR Jordy Nelson, QB Andrew Luck

Using the two WR strategy, this turn is where you fill out your starting QB and flex position. In this case, both Stafford and Luck are available and have consistently been available in drafts to this point in the offseason.

These were easy calls. Stafford, despite bad mechanics and a supporting cast that can’t stay healthy will throw for nearly 5000 yards this season again. Dwayne Bowe is clearly the number one passing option in Kansas City. In a dynasty PPR situation, you may give Luck some consideration over Stafford here, but otherwise this is exactly what I expected.

Round 7/8

Pick 84 – RB Ryan Matthews
Pick 85 – RB DeAngelo Williams

Missed Out On: WR Steve Johnson
Also Available: QB Andrew Luck, WR Mike WIlliams

Neither of these players excites me personally, but they were the best fantasy backup RBs available who also figure to get starter level carries for their respective NFL clubs, so passing on either in favor of a third tier Tight End or #2 NFL Wide Receiver didn’t seem like a good move.

Round 9/10

Pick 108 – TE Jermichael Finley
Pick 109 – K Blair Walsh

Missed Out On: WR Alshon Jeffery
Also Available: WR Golden Tate

Traditional fantasy football orthodoxy tells you to wait until the last two rounds to take Kicker and Defense, because the scoring variables are so great year to year that it isn’t justifiable from a VBD perspective.

Having played fantasy football for 20 years, my own theory on the matter is that this is only partially true. Certainly a statistic like fumbles involves a regression to a mean. The same could be argued of field goal opportunities. But if you can get the best of a particular back end position early, and you’re happy with your roster, go ahead and burn the picks.

I would have gladly taken Seattle’s D/ST here, except that it went in round 6. That is the only D/ST worth taking as early as the round 9/10 turn, so I passed on that in favor of taking TE Jermichael Finley, who I felt was the best available at this position here.

Blair Walsh, who can kick for both accuracy and distance consistently, is, to me, the best kicker on the board, and was available here. Both picks were an easy call.

Round 11/12

Pick 132 – WR Michael Floyd
Pick 133 – WR DeAndre Hopkins

Missed Out On: None
Also Available: WR Ryan Broyles, WR Vincent Brown

At this stage, you’re looking for the best #2 NFL Wide Receivers to build bye week depth. Choosing from these four was difficult. Like Matthew Stafford, I’m convinced that Cardinals QB Carson Palmer will be put in a “throw until his arm falls off” offense, of which Michael Floyd will be the primary beneficiary.

Yes, Larry Fitzgerald will have a great bounce back year, but Floyd starts opposite of him and gets the single coverage.

The tougher call was between Broyles and Hopkins. A similar theory holds true for Broyles who should see single coverage opposite Calvin Johnson. Personally, while I value the opinion of Lions fans who see a Brett Perriman like skill set out of Broyles, I see Yatil Green’s injury history. But when you’re having these debates over your 5th wide receiver position, I think you’re doing something right.

Round 13/14

Pick 156 – QB Carson Palmer
Pick 157 – D/ST Baltimore

Missed Out On: RB Pierre Thomas
Also Available: WR Andre Roberts, TE Martellus Bennett, K Justin Tucker, D/ST St. Louis

Carson Palmer would be the perfect complement to Matthew Stafford, except they have the same bye week. I’m not in love with Carson Palmer the player, but Carson Palmer the fantasy football statistic accumulator has significant potential. Unfortunately, he and Stafford have the same bye week.

In the case of D/ST Baltimore, this is a matter of the best of what’s around. Given the pick over again, I most likely would have chosen St. Louis, in that I think the Defense personnel is a little better. But the Rams get the Browns and Steelers twice, and those offenses will be the turnover gifts that keep on giving. Plus, the Ravens Special Teams are solid.

Round 15/16

Pick 180 – WR Robert Woods
Pick 181 – WR Keenan Allen

Missed Out: None
Also Available: RB Robert Turbin, RB Knile Davis

The last two positions should be considered roster churn. These are both terrific dynasty picks. Woods should be in a position to start across from Stevie Johnson in Buffalo this season, and I really like Keenan Allen’s skill set. But at this point, I’m not heartbroken if I have to release either to pick up a bye week replacement.


  • Drafting two WRs first is ideal in PPR leagues with 12 and fewer teams for those owners drafting between picks 10 and 12.
  • The first six picks should consist of WR, WR, RB, RB, QB, Flex.
  • The next two picks should be used on backup WRs.
  • Use picks in rounds 10-14 solidifying the back end of your roster, including a Tight End, if required, D/ST or Kicker and a backup QB.
  • Use the remainder of your picks on building depth in your Wide Receiver corps.


Daniel Cromartie About Daniel Cromartie
Daniel was a member of our 2013 PPR league, and has great strategic insight into fantasy football, mock drafts, and fantasy draft strategy.


  1. Matt Andrew (@mandrew_19)

    August 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Why would you draft 7 WR and only 4 RB when your two starting WR are must-starts every week? In this scenario, I’d suggest only drafting 4-5 WR and load up on RB since RB isn’t your stronger position of the two. Throw enough darts at RB and you’re bound to hit on one or two. I’d also draft a backup TE since Finley isn’t an automatic start each week (at least until he proves himself first). Undoubtedly you’ll find a couple solid WRs on waivers throughout the season; not as likely at RB.

  2. Daniel P (@nightowlsinc)

    August 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I’m higher on Findley than you are. Insert Myers or Bennett in that spot, or Owen Daniels, until you get to a TE you’re comfortable with having around as the only one on the roster prior to the bye week if you’d prefer a different guy there using this strategy. They were all available at that point.

    As for RB, the PDW PPR only requires two starters at the position. Drafting two additional NFL starters to back up the two left me in a position where I felt comfortable with that unit.
    You make a fair point that taking a flier on Davis, Michael, Taylor, or Turbin over Allen at the end of the draft might have been a slightly better strategy, but overall, I have four NFL starters (albeit not the strongest ones), and that’s a decent enough foundation to get me into the season. I consider Allen and, to a lesser extent, Woods to be churnable roster spots.

    One thing I didn’t mention was that this strategy forces you to concede that your flex position will be a WR. Consistently that person turns out to be either Dwayne Bowe or DeSean Jackson at that Round 6 spot. I’m happy with that, especially with Bowe.

  3. Matt

    September 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    In PPR why dont people draft Calvin with top 5 picks – he is just as equal to rest in point

  4. Matt

    September 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    *more people

  5. Kelly Smelser (The Kommish)

    September 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Megatron is absolutely worth high consideration in PPR. I had the 1st pick in this draft and I honestly would rather have not had that spot. If I would have been sitting with pick #4 or below Calvin would have definitely been my first rounder. He’s been targeted 350 times over the last two seasons. You gotta take that.

    • Daniel Cromartie

      September 4, 2013 at 3:53 am

      In a PPR with this type of scoring system, I’ve seen Calvin Johnson with top five level point estimates. The issue with taking him at five is that it significantly reduces the talent pool of RBs for you to pick from in Round 2.

      Or at least, that’s what I thought, so I ran a 12 team PPR simulation, picking fifth, where I took Calvin Johnson, and here were the results:

      Andrew Luck (Ind) (Romo was also available)
      Ryan Tannehill (Mia)
      David Wilson (NYG)
      Lamar Miller (Mia)
      Ryan Mathews (SD)
      Eddie Lacy (GB)
      Calvin Johnson (Det)
      Julio Jones (Atl)
      Miles Austin (Dal)
      Alshon Jeffery (Chi)
      Mohamed Sanu (Cin)
      Owen Daniels (Hou)
      Julius Thomas (Den)
      Blair Walsh (Min)
      Seattle Seahawks (Sea)

      Now that’s pretty good team, in my opinion. I don’t know that it would turn out nearly as well in a 14 team league, drafting from five. There were also guys available later, particularly Austin and Jeffery, that were not available in drafts I participated in over the weekend.

      It was interesting to me that I could take Calvin Johnson at five and still use the two WR strategy and still end up with four #1 running backs, again, not something likely to happen in a 14 team league.

      But with 12 teams and a PPR, picking five or lower? Why not?